World / Reporter's Journal

When it comes to history, black is black and white is white

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2014-09-23 03:58

The month of September is held solemn by many Chinese no matter where they are. It was on Sept 18, 1931, that troops of the Japanese Imperial Army raided a railway station in Shenyang, Liaoning province and set off a chain reaction that eventually escalated into the Japanese occupation of northeast China.

Many historians regarded the Sept 18 incident as the beginning of Japan's invasion of China, as Japan launched an all out war to conquer the entire country just six years later, as well as invading neighboring Asian countries. The Japanese aggression brought calamity throughout Asia until the conclusion of WWII in 1945.When it comes to history, black is black and white is white

In 14 years, Japanese invaders had forced thousands of women into prostitution as "comfort women" and killed about 35 million civilians and allied soldiers in Asia, some with biological and chemical weapons.

In the 1937 Nanjing Massacre alone, Japanese troops committed a six-week mass murder and mass rape atrocity against Chinese civilians after their capture of the then Chinese capital, leaving roughly 300,000 dead.

Yet some in the Japanese government keep challenging humanity's conscience by denying war crimes, denying the facts and shunning international justice. They pay homage to the spirits of war criminals, glorifying aggression and colonial rule and ignore civil claims of Chinese and Korean comfort women.

In memorializing our injured and dead, Chinese people need to carry on the national spirit of the Anti-Japanese War with patriotism at its core, allowing neither denial nor distortion of the historical truth of World War II on the Japanese side, nor any return of the Japanese government to militarism.

"This has breached the Japanese government's historic promise, deviated from the political basis of bilateral ties and seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and those in other Asian countries," said Chinese President Xi Jinping at a symposium held in Beijing on Sept 3 as China marked the 69th anniversary of winning the war against the Japanese invasion.

Xi stressed that Japan's correct treatment of and deep reflection on past events was the political basis for the long-term, steady and healthy development of bilateral ties. "With the utmost resolution and effort, we will join with people all over the world to safeguard the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the world war against fascism," he said.

Some overseas Chinese have already started an arduous journey to seek justice and compensation for the WWII victims and their families, calling on Japan's parliament, prime minister and emperor to formally apologize for their nation's war crimes.

The Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII, a grassroots non-profit organization established in 1994, will gather its worldwide members for its biannual conference on Nov 14 in San Francisco.

For 20 years, the alliance has sought an apology and monetary compensation for victims and survivors and their families of the Japanese invasions during WWII, spread historic truth among the general public in the West and conducted educational activities to inform and mobilize public opinion.

Ding Yuan, a spokesperson for the alliance and one of its driving forces, said although they aim at promoting peace and reconciliation in the world, there won't be a foundation for reconciliation without honesty and candor on the part of Japan.

Peace will not come until Japan agrees to forthrightly acknowledge this history and apologize and compensate its victims, otherwise peace between Japan and the Asian neighbors it traumatized during WWII will remain elusive, Ding said.

Ding's alliance pushes for establishment of permanent and public memorials on WWII as part of their volunteer work. In recent years, memorials to Pacific War victims have been installed in New Jersey, New York and some cities in California.

Last September, the alliance sponsored the installation of a memorial dedicated to WWII victims in Asia on the campus of Sonoma State University (SSU) in California. The memorial features an 11-foot-long granite bench which is engraved in both English and Chinese script to commemorate the victims and a footpath inscribed with memorial messages for victims — civilians and prisoners of war murdered in Japanese experiments in Unit 731, hundreds of thousands of women and young girls forced into sexual slavery, 35 million Asians and Pacific Islanders murdered in Japanese army atrocities and the 300,000 killed in the Rape of Nanking.

Japan must show a sense of responsibility for history, the region's peoples and the future, and help maintain Sino-Japanese friendship as well as the stability and development of Asia, Xi said.

"Black is black. You can't turn it into white by denying it 10,000 times. White is white. You can never turn it black by denying it 10,000 times," Xi rightly said.

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